Friday, August 29, 2014

Books: The Tie That Binds Friendships

Blog Hop August 29th – 31st

Today’s post is part of a very special blog hop with some very familiar authors participating. Not only do these awesome authors have great posts to share, but they’re gonna take over Facebook!! Who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point? J
The theme of this special blog hop is friendship.
Not just the people in our lives we call friends, but how books might have created an unexpected friendship with someone we’d never met or how books might have given you and the friends you already had more things in common. Some posts might even offer a book where two friends become more. The sky’s the limit as far as it goes.
For me, I already had a best friend and while we had tons of stuff in common, we’d known each other for years before we bonded even more over our love of books. She always read much more than I did, but that's because she’s a lot smarter than me. J
My oldest daughter sort of became the catalyst when her brother brought home a little book called, “Twilight” a few years back. Some of the High School girls he knew had been reading it and he thought his younger sister would enjoy it, too.
I started reading it with her and we discussed it almost every day. I enjoyed the time we spent and was thankful she and I had that bond and established an open line of communication just as she was entering her teen years. It can often be difficult to find common ground with our kids when they hit that age, so trust me, I was delighted.
One day, while at a birthday party for my best friend’s great niece or nephew, I forget which, we all somehow got on the topic of Twilight and without even realizing it, we discovered we were all reading the same book and were close to the same spot in the series.
Kim, my best friend, and I started calling and texting each other every night to discuss the book. As if we needed another reason to call or text.
Despite the other shenanigans we had a knack of getting ourselves into, we had a great time laughing and rewriting the story in our heads as we discussed the what ifs and possibilities we anticipated in the next book we hadn’t gotten to yet.
Without even knowing it, we were in essence, creating fan-fiction before we ever knew what fan-fiction was. Believe it or not, not everyone has heard of it.
My daughter was aware of Fan-fiction long before I had a clue and still writes it today based on her own interests. I’ll admit it, I’m a dinosaur when it comes to technology so it takes a little more effort to keep up. She was a kid then, so naturally, she had the upper hand. Ha!
Now, as I’ve said many times before, Twilight was the main reason I became an author, but only because Kim and I both agreed had we written the books, the last one in the series (Breaking Dawn) would have had a much more exciting finish.
Steph Meyer had her own vision, but it was then that I realized I did too. I suppose that’s why fan-fiction is so popular. The foundation is already laid out for you and you just have to pick it up and run with it.
While I’ve never written fan-fiction myself, I did start writing because of it.
Kim and I had the brilliant idea to prove we could write a better story, but because she worked a full time job and I didn’t, I ended up becoming obsessed and couldn’t walk away from my laptop. If you don’t believe me, just ask my bathroom scale. I clearly have the ass of a woman who doesn’t get out much.
One thing led to another and within a year my first book was published. It was terrible, but as any writer knows, we’re never too old to learn and twenty-two books later, I’m still doing just that.
I wouldn’t have gotten this far in my career if it hadn’t been for books, Kim, friendship, and a dream that I hope will someday provide us both with a comfortable retirement. After all, she’s my honorary personal assistant, my “ride or die chick”, the ying to my yang and she’d help me bury a body without asking too many questions. But most of all, she’s ready willing and able to help me finish off copious amounts of frozen margaritas out by my imaginary pool. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Kim is still an avid reader and probably logs in ten times the hours I do reading, but we still talk books and make recommendations when we find those rare gems that are too good not to share.
My daughter is 19 now and she gets in on the action from time to time as well as Kim’s little sister, Kassi. Now those two can whiz through some books. It also explains why they’re practically walking, talking encyclopedias.
Books might not have created the friendship Kim and I already had, but they definitely have added a special flavor we can always count on to ensure we never run out of excitement and entertainment.
Someday we’ll sit in rocking chairs, side by side on one of our front porches, watching the grandkids play in the yard and laugh about Edward and Bella and the days when we couldn’t get enough of their romance. Of course, we’ll probably wonder if Jacob’s abs are still just as yummy and act like we weren’t dirty old ladies drooling over the twink and his tanned physique.
Books are an essential part of so many lives. What role have they played in yours?  
Be sure visit the other blogs participating in this hop and enter the drawings for some awesome prizes!!
Most of all, have fun and happy reading!!

Link to the Blog Hop and drawings for amazing prozes!!

The schedule for the Facebook Takeover is as follows:

FRIDAY
2pm: Just One More Page - Jen
4pm: Kristine Cayne
6pm: Jan Meredith
9pm: Renea Mason

SATURDAY
Noon: CM Doporto
2pm: Jianne Carlo
4pm: Louisa Bacio
8pm: V.L. Locey

SUNDAY
Noon: Dominique Eastwick
2pm: We Love Kink -Michelle
4pm: SJ Maylee
6pm: Perusing Princesses – Elizabeth

Find the action here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/570054896438601/

Raffelcopter:


Friday, August 22, 2014

Spotlight Feature: Spanish Heat by Douglas Black

Today’s returning guest has been very busy since he first visited us earlier this month, and we’re so glad he’s set some time aside for us again!!
Help me welcome back Douglas Black!! *insert applause here*
Grab a drink, take a seat, get comfy and let’s dig into his latest M/M release, Spanish Heat!!!

Spanish Heat is an M/M erotic short story that follows Jack, a young man who leaves his hometown of Glasgow and flies to Spain to take a job housesitting. The job was supposed to offer Jack a break from problems back home, but Jack is worried that he’s acted rashly, and the fact that things immediately stop going as planned isn’t helping much with his nerves.
Spanish Heat is published by Totally Bound Publishing, but was previously released as Business or Pleasure by Silver Publishing. It has been revised and reedited for rerelease.

Jack is looking for a new job and a fresh start, but he finds more than he expected waiting for him under the Spanish sun.
When Jack Campbell is unceremoniously dumped in favour of his high school best friend, he decides he needs a fresh start. He sees an advertisement in The Times. Clark Thomas is looking for a house sitter for his villa in Marbella. In a slightly inebriated state, Jack applies seeing this as the perfect chance to get away from his troubles at home in Glasgow, but when he lands in Spain, he finds a lot more than a just job opportunity waiting for him.
Clark has one weekend to show Jack the ropes before he leaves Spain and the memories of his own recent break-up behind for the next nine months. However, there’s just something about Jack. Instead of explaining the finer points of Jack’s contract, Clark finds himself introducing the young Glaswegian to some of his favourite Andalusian haunts, and he’s spending more time doing so than is necessary.
There must be something in the Spanish heat. All too soon Clark and Jack find themselves struggling to maintain the boundaries of their employer-employee relationship. Jack is behaving in ways he never has before, but knowing that what he’s doing is probably wrong doesn’t stop it from feeling right, and it might cause Jack a bigger problem when Monday morning comes around and it’s time for Clark to leave.

Excerpt

Clark swung himself to his feet and pulled his T-shirt over his head, dropping it onto the tiled floor. He faced Jack, who fought to keep his eyes from exploring Clark’s tanned, pleasantly hairy chest and abs. “Fancy joining me?”
The denim shorts dropped, pulling Jack’s eyes back south to a pair of baggy, purple board shorts. Clark was in the pool before Jack had time to work out what he was talking about.
“Come on. I keep the water nice and cool. There are spare shorts behind the bar.” Clark shouted, gesturing to the well-stocked bar at the edge of the large, barbecue kitchen at the end of the pool.
Jack watched the water rippling as Clark moved expertly through the pool. Slowly he stripped off his shirt and went behind the bar where he fumbled with a pair of green Hawaiian shorts before sliding off his jeans.
The high counter of the bar protected his modesty and he told himself the feeling of eyes on his skin was just paranoia. Suitably attired, he returned to the pool, tossed his clothes beside his beer and dropped into the water, grateful to be cool again.
“I’m sure you’ll really like it here, Jack. It’s a brilliant place.”
Jack nodded but kept his distance. Going swimming with his new employer half an hour after meeting him felt a little inappropriate, even by his newly lowered standards of behavior.
“Have you been to Spain before?” Clark rolled onto his back.
Jack struggled not to stare at Clark’s toned, tanned chest. “Family holidays when I was much younger. I’ve never been to this part, though.”
“Do you know anyone in this part of the country?”
Jack shook his head. “I wasn’t really thinking about whether or not I would know anyone when I sent the email. Getting away from it all was sort of the point.”
Clark fell silent, and Jack wondered if he had said too much. When Clark started to swim to the edge of the pool, Jack tried to work out what he could possibly have said. He watched Clark plant two strong arms on the side of the tiles and lift himself from the water, half a meter from the metal pool steps.
Water rushed from Clark’s hair and shoulders making his muscles glisten in the sunshine. His shorts, wet and heavy, were pulled down as Clark propelled himself from the pool.
Jack caught a glimpse of a tan line and dimpled buttocks and tried to create a bland expression on his face as Clark turned to him.
“Do you fancy grabbing something to eat tonight, then? I could show you around a little—help you settle in. I don’t exactly have much planned for my last weekend.”
“That sounds good,” he said a little warily.Great! Be ready by seven?

Buy Links



Douglas Black was born and raised in bonnie Scotland. An archaeologist by trade, Douglas started writing MM erotica as a means of avoiding starvation at university before returning to the genre in 2012.
Welcome to your fantasy.

Author Links
Blog
Amazon
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
@DBlackErotica

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: Making sense of a tragedy...

I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened yesterday with Robin Williams. Is there a way to make sense of it all or will this always be one of those things we shake our heads at and wonder about for years to come?
I keep asking myself if something could have been said or done to have prevented the tragedy, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Thinking about it sparked more questions than answers which prompted me to sit back and take a look at depression itself.
There’s a huge misconception concerning the difference between depression and being depressed.
I, myself, have been “depressed” from time to time, but in my own experience, the feeling was short-lived and faded away quickly. I look back on those times as being sad, and usually with good reason, like after my husband passed away. I’ve even had bouts of severe “sadness” in the years since, but those times have also been rapidly overcome and dealt with accordingly.
Depression is not the same. It doesn’t just go away, though there may be times it seems like it has.
There's also a difference between people who suffer from genuine, clinically diagnosed depression and those who threaten suicide as a manipulation tool to get the attention they crave.
Unfortunately, I’ve had some experience with the latter on several occasions so this has been a gray area I’ve struggled to comprehend for most of my life.
There have been people close to me who have used threats of suicide as a weapon to manipulate others into giving them what they wanted.
In my personal experience, this has usually occurred after a bad break up or when things weren’t going their way. Try growing up in that environment.
Please don’t misunderstand the point I am trying to make. I’m not saying that people who get upset over circumstances they think are hopeless and actually do hurt or kill themselves weren’t asking for help. That’s not my point at all.
I’m simply speaking on my personal experience as a way to demonstrate how confusing, devastating and dangerous either situation can be. Not only for the one making the threats, but for the people around them as well. This is where it gets tricky, and both sides can easily be misunderstood.
I know in my heart that the threats people in my life made were not caused by true depression because as soon as they got what they wanted, the skies cleared and all was well with the world.
Sadly, the target of their ploy then became hostage to the fear of the “what ifs”. What if they were serious? What if they actually do try to hurt themselves? If they do something drastic, will it be my fault?
It’s a wonder people put into those situations don’t become depressed themselves, myself included.  
The experiences I’ve had have left me jaded when it comes to people who threaten suicide, but fortunately, I’ve come to understand the difference between genuine depression and the other unfortunate circumstance.
I’ve set aside my normal author/book spotlights to post about this issue which has been grossly overlooked in society. A topic no one wants to discuss, perhaps because it’s so dark and misunderstood.
While trying to educate myself on this topic, it occurred to me others might want to as well.

Depression is, by definition: severe despondency and dejection, typically felt over a period of time and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.
Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for a longer period of time.

According to an article today in Forbes Magazine, there are 5 common misconceptions about depression:
1) Depression is synonymous with sadness. (I kind of explained my own experience with this as I stated earlier)
2) Depression is a sign of mental weakness.
3) Depression is always situational
4) Depression symptoms are all in your head. (Believe it or not, they can manifest themselves physically, too)
5) If you are diagnosed with depression, you’ll be on antidepressants the rest of your life.

The Mayo Clinic also offers a plethora of information regarding depression that might prove helpful as well. It’s definitely worth a look…

Furthermore, depression has no preference.
It effects men, women, young, old, back, white, Latino, gay, straight, rich, poor … it doesn’t matter. Depression is an equal opportunity disease.
If left untreated, or sometimes even while being treated, depression can distort someone's view of the world rendering their outlook bleak and hopeless.
In my opinion, THAT is a true disease, no different than addiction or any other mental illness.
Someone suffering with the disease does not simply CHOOSE to be unhappy. They won’t “snap out of it!”

While I can't imagine the anguish someone with depression might feel, it's clear that things on the outside aren't as they appear on the inside.
It also has nothing to do with the type of person someone is.
Though I didn't know him personally, I doubt anyone could find anything about Robin Williams that would have been categorize as selfish or manipulative.
 He was a giver, someone who donated his time, money and heart to those in need. His ability to make us laugh allowed him to use his celebrity to help those in need. There’s nothing selfish about that at all.
I’m no expert, but I assume Mr. William’s struggle with addiction was how the disease expertly masked itself. The disease couldn’t be measured by the smell of liquor, bloodshot eyes, or the slur of words.
It was something rooted deeply within. Camouflaged by a smile, hidden behind a punchline, drowned out by laughter.
As a writer who hears voices in my head on a daily basis, I can only imagine what thoughts must have gone through his when he looked out upon a crowd during stand-up routines.
Was there a voice screaming at him, telling him things none of us could ever possibly understand? Goading him into believing none of it mattered as he scanned the sea of happy faces before him? Did the disease distort the things his family and friends might have said to him, constantly transforming something positive into something negative? Was his comedic genius a by-product of the disease? His minds way of fighting back, trudging through the chaos and torment?
We may never know exactly what depression does to those who suffer from it. It can be explained with words, maybe even expressed through writing or art, but unless experienced firsthand, it can never be truly understood.
This tragic event has changed the way I see Robin Williams. Possibly even made sense of some of his behavior and actions over the years. It could certainly explain his energy and the sincere way he fought so hard to reach us though laughter and love.
Now when I remember him, I hear another voice in my head whispering… see him. See what’s underneath. Hear him. Hear what he’s trying to say. Understand him. Understand how little control he had over the darkness inside him. Remember him. Remember that if he could have changed it, he would have.
The pain and shock is still hard to swallow today so soon after the loss, but I hope something good does eventually come from this tragedy.


Below are some very important links.
If you or someone you know is, or might be, dealing with depression, have had thoughts of hurting yourself/themselves, or even something more drastic, PLEASE SEEK HELP!!

Suicide Prevention Hotline:

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness (Teens)

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

Freedom from Fear:

SAVE: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education:


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Black is BACK!! New release, Bucket List by Douglas Black

          It’s been a minute since we've seen today’s guest. He’s been very busy since he first visited us last summer (Can you believe it's been that long?) We're sorry it took him so long to return, but we’re so glad his absence is due to writing new books!! He'll be here TWICE this month, so be sure to pay attention to announcements. 
Okay, enough teasing!! Let's get on with it ... Please help me welcome back the man of the hour, Douglas Black!! 
Grab a drink, take a seat, get comfy and let’s dig into his latest M/M release, The Bucket List!!!

The Bucket List is an M/M erotic novella that tells the story of Kade, a Glaswegian accountant recently dumped by his verbally abusive, long-term boyfriend Niall. Kade’s friends think his relationship has caused him to become introverted and stuck in his ways so, to try to help him, they write a bucket list. Kade isn’t exactly convinced by this plan, but he reluctantly goes along with it, only to discover it’s true: bucket lists really can change your life.
The Bucket List was released by Loose Id Publishing on August 5th. 

When Kade Doherty gets dumped, he expects sympathy from his friends. Instead, he gets a bucket list. His friends want to help him enjoy life again, but Kade isn’t convinced a list of outlandish leisure pursuits will help much with that. To keep the peace he goes along with the plan and in the process, he meets Blake.
Blake’s Australian accent and surfer-boy looks are the stuff of sexual fantasies and Kade surprises everyone – including himself – when he wastes no time making a move.
Kade goes with Blake into the Scottish highlands, but just as he is beginning to get used to life with his very own Mr. Australia, reality comes knocking. Kade’s newfound happiness falls apart when his abusive ex demands they meet. Blake senses something is wrong and he wants to help, but Kade knows he can’t confide in Blake.
After all, Kade hasn’t exactly been honest. He might feel like a different man when he’s with Blake, but Kade knows he’s still just an accountant from Glasgow with slight obsessive compulsions and a bucket list that someone else wrote. He knows Blake won’t hang around, let alone help, when he finds out the truth.
Or will he?


Excerpt
Kade made his way slowly over to Blake, keeping close to the relative calm of the curving bar. He stepped in beside his Mr. Australia. Blake didn’t turn to look at him.
Kade assumed that, even given the circumstances, it was still acceptable to start with, “Hello.”
Blake turned his head, and Kade felt that warmth he had felt with his back to the fish tanks in the Asian supermarket. “Hi,” Blake said, his voice deep enough to carry against the music.
He turned, opening up his body and inviting Kade to step closer. Kade did. He wanted to, wanted to see if that strange connection he had felt earlier was still there between them.
“Who’s your friend?” Kade asked.
Blake just shrugged. “Don’t know. Just some kid. Art student, apparently. He was a good dancer, though.”
“Not a good kisser?”
Blake looked Kade up and down, taking his time doing so. Kade had always thought the idea that someone could undress you with their eyes was a concept fit only for the cheap romance novels his mum used to read, but he couldn’t think of a better way to describe what Blake’s eyes had just done to him. The words needed to describe how that made Kade feel wouldn’t be fit for polite company. Not that Kade was really in polite company.
“I wouldn’t know. Didn’t want to kiss him.” Blake reached out and stroked his hand down Kade’s right arm, from his shoulder to his wrist. He left it there for a few moments, holding tight, and then he pulled Kade’s wrist toward him. Kade’s hand landed on Blake’s hip, his thumb teasing Blake’s tight, strong stomach muscles. When Blake let go, Kade didn’t move his hand away.
“Why didn’t you want to?” Kade couldn’t stop staring into those bright blue eyes.
Blake shrugged and wrapped the hand that had been around Kade’s wrist around Kade’s neck. “He’s not my type. And I was hoping I would meet someone else here tonight. I thought it was a long shot, but I didn’t want to take the risk and ruin my chances.”
Despite his recent drink, Kade’s throat felt dry. He didn’t even care if that was a lie. Blake’s strong fingers rubbed Kade’s neck just below his hairline.
“Who were you hoping to meet?” Kade asked.
Blake tugged him in close so their bodies were pressing together. Kade’s hand slipped around to Blake’s back, holding on tight as Blake put his lips to the side of Kade’s neck.
“You,” Blake whispered. They were so close to the loudspeakers that the word should have been lost, but Kade heard that loaded syllable and felt it translate like heat through his body, like he had just stepped into a hot bath.
“Are you here with somebody?”
Kade shook his head. He felt Blake spread his legs. There was barely any distance left between them.
“Then would you mind if I did this?”
Kade turned his head to find Blake’s lips less than an inch away from his own. He smiled and tried for one of those winks he was so not used to giving, and then let Blake close the distance between them.

Buy Links

(more to follow – released August 5th)

Author Biography
Douglas Black was born and raised in bonnie Scotland. An archaeologist by trade, Douglas started writing MM erotica as a means of avoiding starvation at university before returning to the genre in 2012.
Welcome to your fantasy.

Author Links

Blog

Amazon

Facebook Author Page

Twitter
@DBlackErotica